With regulations being updated and changed it is important to know what the legal requirements are when renting a property. Below is a guide for the legal responsibilities of landlords in the private rented sector. While the information given is correct at the time of writing please also use other sources to validate your legal requirements.
As of the 1st October 2015 the minimum requirements for private landlords are to have at least one working smoke alarm installed on every storey of their property and a carbon monoxide alarm in every room containing a solid fuel burning appliance. After the alarms have been installed landlords must ensure that all alarms are in good working order at the start of each new tenancy.
After the tenancy has started the government’s publications advise that tenants should take responsibility for their own safety by testing all alarms on a regular basis. Testing monthly is considered acceptable.
While tenants are responsible for their own safety, Landlords are responsible for any insurance policies they may have in place. Not all insurance policies are the same and it is advisable to check any policies that are in place to see if the policy has any specific requirements. These requirements can include the type of alarms installed and any legal documentation required to validate the alarms installation and or maintenance. To gather this information and for future records it is advisable to have these questions clarified in writing.
The types and grading of the alarm system is dependant on the type, size and the property’s intended use. There are different regulations for Domestic and Commercial Properties. BS5839-1:2017 are the regulation for non-domestic properties and BS5839-6:2013 are the regulations for domestic properties. HMOs (Houses of multiple occupancy) and building converted into flats are required to comply with different regulations. An example of this is the main fire escape route within flats and HMOs. The fire escape is non-domestic and inside the flats are domestic, different regulations.
Having the property inspected is the safest way to ensure the legal requirements are met. This can be achieved through different channels of enquiry. Local Authorities will give guidance as to their requirements and for a fee will inspect the property. A qualified fire alarm designer/installer can also inspect the property to give further guidance and a quote for any required works.
While price is always a consideration, certification should not be overlooked. Unqualified electricians and handymen will always provide cheaper quotes. However, they will not be able to certify their work with the appropriate certificates and are unlikely to have any valid insurance. A common occurrence is landlords seeking certification for new work that someone else has installed but can not sign off. This is never a good place to be and in the long run it is best practice to arrange a qualified, registered and insured tradesman from the start. One that can complete the job from start to finish.
For more detail on Smoke and Carbon Monoxide alarms please follow the link below: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/smoke-and-carbon-monoxide-alarms-explanatory-booklet-for-landlords/the-smoke-and-carbon-monoxide-alarm-england-regulations-2015-qa-booklet-for-the-private-rented-sector-landlords-and-tenants